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THE GOSPEL OF THE EBIONITES

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Gospel. This is shown, for example, in the reference to the diet of John the Baptist, in which the canonical statement that he ate locusts (i.e., meat) and wild honey was modified by the change of simply one letter, so that now the Baptist, in anticipation of the Ebionites themselves, maintains a vege­ tarian cuisine: here he is said to have eaten pancakes and wild honey. It is difficult to assign a date to this Gospel, but since it betrays a knowledge of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and presupposes a thriving com­ munity of Jewish Christians, it is perhaps best to locate it sometime early in the second century. The following extracts are all that remain of the Gospel, drawn from Epiphanius’s work, the Panarion (�The Medicine Chest), Book 30.

1

The beginning of the Gospel they use reads as follows: “And so in the days of Herod, King of Judea, John came baptizing a baptism of repentance in the Jordan River. He was said to have come from the tribe of Aaron, the priest, and was the child of Zacharias and Eliz­ abeth. And everyone went out to him.” (Epiphanius, Panarion, 30, 13, 6)

2

For by chopping off the genealo­ gies of Matthew they make their Gospel begin as we indicated before, with the words: “And so in the days of Herod, King of Judea, when Caiaphas was high priest, a certain one named John came baptizing a baptism of repentance in the Jordan River.” (Epiphanius, Panarion, 30, 14, 3)

3

And so John was baptizing, and Pharisees came to him and were baptized, as was all of Jerusalem. John wore a garment of camel hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was wild honey that tasted like manna, like a cake cooked in oil. (Epiphanius, Panarion, 30, 13, 4–5)

4

And after a good deal more, it says: “When the people were baptized, Jesus also came and was baptized by

John. When he came up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, descending and entering him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased.’ Then it said, ‘Today I have given you birth.’ Immediately a great light enlightened the place. When John saw this,” it says, “he said to him, ‘Who are you Lord?’ Yet again a voice came from heaven to him, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ And then,” it says, “John fell before him and said, ‘I beg you, Lord— you baptize me!’ But Jesus restrained him by saying, ‘Let it be, for it is fitting that all things be fulfilled in this way.’ ” (Epi­ phanius, Panarion, 30, 13, 3–4)

5

In the Gospel that they call “ac­ cording to Matthew”—which is not at all complete, but is falsified and mutilated—which they refer to as the He­ brew Gospel, the following is found: “And so there was a certain man named Jesus, who was about thirty years old. He is the one who chose us. When he came to Capernaum he entered the house of Simon, also called Peter, and he opened his mouth to say, ‘As I was passing by the lake of Tiberias I chose John and James, the sons of Zebedee, and Simon,

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